Nom de Plumage

October 7, 2012

Budapest


 

First,I wish to apologise for my lack of photos in this post, but if you remember, my camera died yesterday and I needed to buy another.

A reoccurring theme on my travels, is rain and today was no exception. A heavy mist blanketed the city, giving it a romantic look to it. I had made no real plans today, only that I wanted to walk, explore and see what I can discover. It was all to be so exciting and I allowed myself the pleasure of getting lost. And yet, I felt at home because surrounding me were people speaking a language that was so familiar to me, more so than in Australia because there the dominate language is English and we would only revert to Hungarian in public, when we would want to bitch about someone – as you do!

The Danube, a silver ribbon that meanders and divides the city is so close to my hostel that it is here that I decide to start my journey. It truly is a mighty river and so symbolic to the romantic ideals of the city. Bridges unite the two halves and there on the very foreshore, is undoubtably the most beautiful of all Parliament Houses. The red dome, very much a Renaissance symbol, dominates the skyline. I walk past the building, only to be stopped by a disgruntled elder, who needed to vent his frustration about politics. My ears, although being small is size, absorbed the barrage and I left a little later, knowing that I did a good deed, even though I said barely anything. Really, what could I to say?

St Stephen’s Cathedral is a place of worship that my family has spoken about numerous times. It was only fitting that I should discover it so easily. Beautiful outside and within, it certainly lived up to the hype and personally for me, one of the most beautiful of cathedrals thus far. I say one because the Italians still have the upper hand in that department. Surrounding the cathedral are countless tourist shops and I venture into just one for a peek. Wow! I discovered so many wonderful and precious hand-made needle-craft, ornaments, clothing and so much more. It was all so tempting and so was the price-tag. Nearby, was a cafe and the Hungarians are famous for their pastries/cakes that I thought it only my duty to stop and sample one. There was only one cake that I really wanted and that was the most famous of them all. The Dobos torte is an icon and it was delicious. Something that I found unsettling in Budapest, is the size of the toilet rooms. Once you enter the tiny compartment, you can barely close the door and then the truly difficult task of sitting down because  your knees are squashed up against the door. Now, I am considered and average size woman in height/weight and struggled, so what about taller people???? Hmm… the mind boggles!

The most famous of all streets and precinct in the city is Vaci Utca. Famous for the cafes and the legendary Gerbeaud Restaurant and also as the “red light” district. I would have loved to have eaten in Geabeaud’s but the restaurant was full and the price was also a big deterrent. The district is full of shops of all kinds, but it is also home to the Christmas Market. Today, was the official opening of the season and it was so special to be a part of it. Although, there is no snow yet, it certainly did not take away any of the festive atmosphere. There was so much delicious food to be had, that I decided to stop here for lunch. I went to a stall to ask for a plate of some traditional food, only to stumble on my words. The man was very polite and asked “English or Hungarian” and I quickly replied Hungarian. He smiled, realised that I was not a local and served me some food accompanied with hot mulled wine. I sat at a long communal table and just enjoyed the atmosphere and food. But reality is never far behind and a wake-up call on how privileged I am. A homeless man was going through the garbage bins in search of food. It is something that would reoccur many times here in Budapest and one underlying factor is the amount of homeless people that roam the streets. And let us not forget the other’s that roam the streets and give Budapest the name of “sex capital”.

At the end of the very long Vaci Utca, is the Central Market. Again, this is an institution and comes high on the tourist recommendation list. A massive two storey market dedicated to all things Hungarian. The lower level sell food in all formats – cold meats, fruit and vegetables, spices, cakes, alcohol, cheeses, fresh meat etc. The upper level sells hand-made needle-craft in the thousands and then on the other side are the stalls selling hot food. I bypassed that section as I have just eaten lunch, but it was so tempting. With winter slowly approaching, the days are getting shorter and night comes early. I make my way back to my hostel to catch-up with my new friends.

lldiko is a beautiful girl and she is at the reception desk when I arrive back. We start talking and she tells me that her boyfriend is from Australia. Not much time passes, when the “Australian boyfriend” arrives. Warren sits down and we all start to talk like long lost friends. After what felt like minutes, was in actual fact several hours, Warren offered to play tour guide tomorrow as well as lending me his camera. The offer was too surreal to pass up and with that decision made, we said our goodnights.

My life was about to change and Warren would become the most influential person to enter my life.

 

 

 

 

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